I just finished re-reading Harry Potter Book Seven. I resisted reading since I'm falling behind on my 100 book challenge and Harry Potter books aren't known for their brevity, but I couldn't resist. Re-reading books helps you see more than on the first read since you can do away with he suspense and absorb the details. The thing that touched me most on my re-read was Harry Potter's relationship with Dumbeldore.
I know I'm not the first to see what seems to be an analogy between Dumbeldore and faith and God. The series began with Harry awed and mesmerized by Dumbeldore's wisdom and kindness. Harry leaves no room to doubt him. Book Seven is different. Dumbeldore is gone. He's entrusted Harry with purpose but Harry is searching blindly for how to fulfill it. Dumbeldore could easily have sat and explained everything to him, but instead Harry is left wandering at times it seems aimlessly, his friends doubting him, even he doubting himself. Ofcourse as his frustration grows he wonders if Dumbedlore was worthy of the devotion, if he even was the wise man he thought he was. He grows angry and though he continues mechanically on the journey in his heart he now deeply doubts. As the story progresses, he makes a choice while burying his loyal house elf, that he will trust and believe in Dumbeldore despite all the doubts and fears he has. He will not stop believing. Ultimately ofcourse things come full circle, he grows as a person and the universe unfolded for him as it should.
This reminds me of ones relationship with God. As children we listen to our parents and Sunday school teachers and believe because they leave no room for doubt. Pray to God to give you a sibling! and a baby brother arrives in weeks. God loves you and watches over you, pray to him and He listens. And as a child you don't question this you simply believe and you see the proof of this belief everywhere. Then, for some of us, we grow older and we are jolted by hardship we could never have anticipated. We don't understand. We pray and beg God to listen and simply answer our prayers, to take away our hardship or give us what we want. When we don't get this we pray for understanding, but sometimes because of our own anxious hearts we cannot hear the answer and then the seeds of doubt begin to settle in and try to grow. Is he there? If so why doesn't He listen? What is my purpose? Am I just wandering alone?
As children we can believe blindly, and some of us are lucky perhaps to believe blindly as adults, but there are a few who begin questioning and just as Harry wonders, we too begin wondering. Ultimately however, it comes down to faith. Just as Harry finally decides to trust Dumbledore's plan, ultimately that is a choice we must make. In a secular society it can be easy to make a different choice than Harry, to not believe, to walk away and consider faith a weak man's crutch or a myth we still hold on to. I believe it takes a lot more strength to believe in what you cannot see. To trust in a purpose and a plan despite the road seeming dark as you hit bumps you did not anticipate and fear what else lies ahead.
Two hadith come to mind as I reflect on these thoughts.
I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assemble better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm's length, I draw near to him a fathom's length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.
Who seeketh me findeth me. Who findeth me knoweth Me. Who knoweth Me loveth Me. Who loveth Me, him I love. Whom I love, him I slay. Whom I slay, him must I requite. Whom I requite, Myself am his requital.
I have no conclusion to these thoughts, but they struck me while I read. The nature of faith and the strength it takes to hold strong even when Dementers and Death Eaters seem to spring from unanticipated spots every step of the way.